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piano grades

(16 Posts)
cascade Tue 04-Aug-09 18:34:18

Im wondering if there are any piano teachers who could help me make a decision. My dd teacher has just asked me whether I would like to put dd in for her grade 1 exam and im undecided on what to do for the best. My dd is 6 and my immediate reaction (in my head) was she is too young to do formal exams, What if she fails then this puts her off wanting to play? I have no knowledge of piano exams, or music in general. Could someone explain/advise me what would be involved in this exam? and do you think 6 is too young.

cascade Tue 04-Aug-09 20:08:32

bump

snorkle Tue 04-Aug-09 20:17:40

I'm not a piano teacher, but my ds has done most of the piano grades and I also occasionally work as a music exam steward.

For ABRSM exams you play 3 pieces, do some sight reading, a short aural test and scales. Other exam boards are similar but may have slight differences (eg with Trinity you can do a technical study instead of scales).

6 is quite young, but you do get very young children taking music exams and mostly they cope very well, but can sometimes be quite nervous beforehand. When they come out, the little ones nearly always say they enjoyed it. The examiners are usually very good with the youngsters too, but if they do something silly like completely refusing to play a piece then there is nothing the examiner can do and losing 30 marks will almost certainly mean they will fail. It is, however, really unusual for that to happen, the examiners are quite OK about little slips and things and if the teacher feels she is ready to take the exam then the most likely outcome is that she will pass & feel a million dollars.

That said there is no obligation to take exams at all - in some countries they don't do any, so it shouldn't be a problem not to do any if you explain to your teacher. You dd can either start when she's older (at a higher level) or not do them at all.

thirtypence Wed 05-Aug-09 07:34:09

Ds is 6 and plays the cello - I don't want him entered for exams as the lead time is massive and he would have learnt the pieces and scales and be on to the next thing by the time his exam came around. I am also a music teacher and usually enter piano pupils at around 8 and flute at around 9 (ie one year after they started).

Be aware also if your dd is one of these children that scores 100% in school tests that she will almost certainly not get 150 marks in the exam. Some children continue to be disappointed that they weren't perfect how ever many times I explain it. I have had children with good passes react as if they have failed.

You don't have to take grade 1 in order to take grade 2, so she could easily miss this one out.

SueW Wed 05-Aug-09 08:11:23

Wot snorkle said.

My daughter's been playing instruments since she was about 5 (started with piano, added violin, added sax) and has taken exams in all of them. Can't remember when she took G1 piano but she took G3 aged 9 I think. She's now 12yo.

I always trust her teachers not to enter her unless she was ready and to help her have it as a positive experience. Having said that she's just had a hideous violin exam (G4) where the accompanist didn't turn up, then the last minute stand-in didn't arrive until time of the exam, then messed up one of the pieces as he wasn't familiar with them, all of which tore her nerves to pieces and she came out completely distraught convinced she had failed. The exam centre staff apologised to her and the examiner, who said - quite rightly - she could only examine on what she saw.

She passed though - secure pass, 5 marks off a merit. grin

SueW Wed 05-Aug-09 08:11:26

Wot snorkle said.

My daughter's been playing instruments since she was about 5 (started with piano, added violin, added sax) and has taken exams in all of them. Can't remember when she took G1 piano but she took G3 aged 9 I think. She's now 12yo.

I always trust her teachers not to enter her unless she was ready and to help her have it as a positive experience. Having said that she's just had a hideous violin exam (G4) where the accompanist didn't turn up, then the last minute stand-in didn't arrive until time of the exam, then messed up one of the pieces as he wasn't familiar with them, all of which tore her nerves to pieces and she came out completely distraught convinced she had failed. The exam centre staff apologised to her and the examiner, who said - quite rightly - she could only examine on what she saw.

She passed though - secure pass, 5 marks off a merit. grin

cascade Wed 05-Aug-09 09:27:33

Thanks for the response Im still undecided on what to do for the best, so I may just say to the teacher, well see in a year or so. Am worried that it will be pressurised and require loads of practice. At the moment she just pratices when she wants to, as I dont want to force her and then she ends up hating it.

Does anyone know what kind of pieces they have to do for the exam? To give me an idea wether she is of that standard or not.

snorkle Wed 05-Aug-09 10:27:31

You can see the current ABRSM syllabus here

englishpatient Wed 05-Aug-09 10:31:53

I know it's a long time ago, but I did piano exams as a child (only grades 1 to 3) from about age 7, and for what it's worth, I can tell you I loved doing them! I didn't particularly like practising piano at home usually, but I liked the focus of preparing the exam pieces; I also enjoyed the sight-reading.

Katisha Wed 05-Aug-09 10:59:34

There's thing called the Prep Test which is pre-Grade 1. Basically it's an exam which isn't an exam as you can't fail it. The idea is that it gives them the experience without the stress.
Both my DSs have done this - depends whetehr you want to spend the money on it really. Also your DD might be beyond this if the teacher is talking about Grade 1.
Personally I don't know if I'd bother at 6 yrs to do the Grade 1, although it would be helpful if she learnt the scales and did some of the aural tests and sight reading as she went along, even if she doesn't take the exam as it will a big wodge of stuff to learn if and when she does start taking the exams.

PortAndLemon Wed 05-Aug-09 11:25:52

I've gathered from other posts on MN that there's now a sort of pre-Grade 1 assessment that isn't a pass/fail thing but sort of gets the child used to an assessment situation, pitched more as a chance to show off what they can do. IIRC you get some kind of certificate and feedback but not the whole fail/pass/merit/distinction thing. Might that be a good option to discuss with your DD's piano teacher to pursue as a first option? Now, if only I could remember what it's called...

PortAndLemon Wed 05-Aug-09 11:28:04

Cross-posted with Katisha -- yes, Prep Test

PortAndLemon Wed 05-Aug-09 11:29:10

(not sure how I cross-posted with Katisha, mind you... must have had this thread open for a while before I actually read it... blush)

thirtypence Wed 05-Aug-09 11:31:20

As a teacher I have all children play in a concert each year, then they can simply play 2 or 3 pieces they like and can play well and get some applause. All the children do this.

Only some take exams.

I think performance opportunities are far more vital, and the cost of hiring a room with a 9 foot Steinway for a couple of hours is only the cost of one grade 4 exam!

notanidea Thu 06-Aug-09 23:18:30

I was new to the music exams and am not at all musical.My DD did piano exam grade 1 at 7 and the cello grade 2 at 8.She was 6 1/2 when she did her prep and was so excited that she got up at 5 am to do itgrin and played an extra piece which was taught to her the week before as she did not know which piece to do so ended up playing both to the examinerwink.
So we decided to treat the exams as something which she look forward to- so packed a little picnic for her before her piano exam and took her out after that, had a meal out and bought her books from oxfam and she also got her cello on her piano exam day.So it was treated as a day out. She is not bothered about the exams and looks forward to it so I hope will not be stressed when she has to do higher grades.
As regards to putting her through the exams I trusted the teachers judgement.She didnot do cello grade 1 but went on to do grade2 as per her teachers recommendation.
She missed distinction in piano by 2 marks and also got merit in cello.Although I thought, she will be dissappointed her response was that it is like getting a silver medal so itis ok.

Tinfoil Thu 20-Aug-09 01:39:03

Usually a teacher wouldn't be suggesting the exam unless they thought the child had a good chance of passing. So the likelihood is that your DD would pass and this could be a great encouragement to her.

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